I used to be a hero. That sounds conceited. [Read more…]
Rick Hanson, Ph.D, who wrote Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love & Wisdom, says our brains are designed to scan for danger. When we see something to worry about, the negative information makes a big impression and we’re more likely to be affected by it, because that’s going to help us stay alive. Positive information, on the other hand, isn’t so sticky.
Blue sky, big deal. Saber-toothed cat? BIG deal.
To make matters worse, our fast-paced, information overload-culture increases the amount of scanning our brains do. So we’re constantly gathering more and more negative data.
And we’re stressing the hell out!
On the one hand, it’s kind of cool to think that my brain has a good reason for focusing on the negative. (And here I thought it was just me.) I appreciate the evolutionary necessity of this tendency.
But now that we understand why it’s happening, we can perceive some of our anxiety as an unreliable narrator wringing her hands. Just because the murder rate went up in Texas last year doesn’t mean I have more reason to fear.
Tell your inner worrier to chill.
Kindle readers can email me at Lmspreen@yahoo.com.
Sometimes people ask me about the subhead on this blog. Mostly it’s younger-sounding peeps responding to comments I make on The Huffington Post. I don’t answer, but I could, and here’s what I’d say:
If you have to ask, you’re too young.
As we Boomers stare into the 7x magnifying mirror, trying not to stab ourselves in the eye with the mascara wand and bemoaning the crevasses in our skin, we should remember there’s some compensation for getting old. Keep your eyes open and you’ll see them. The Senior Discount, for example, if you’re not too proud to take it. Most of the younger folks are too innocent to know the difference between a 57-year-old and a 65-year-old, so I get the discount and they don’t card me. All us old people look alike to them.
Recently at the pool, I was trying to reassure my 86-year-old Mom that nobody cares if her legs are crisscrossed with bulbous veins or her backbone is curved or she doesn’t fill out her swimsuit top anymore. None of us in my 55+ community would win any beauty contests except maybe my friend Joan. I pointed at all the adorable children and beautiful young adults visiting their elders on that sunny Saturday. “Take a look around, Mom. The only people who look really good don’t qualify to live here.” And then my big sis and I shared a snarky laugh.
Mom knows what I’m talking about. She’s still independent, but it’s getting harder. Sometimes she has to negotiate with people who are too young, too busy, or too mean to care about a 4′ 11″ woman in her mid-eighties. So Mom prepares. We rehearse before the attack. One of her strategies is to “Play the Grandma Card.” For example, she might tell a clerk, “I’m just an old woman. At the rate you’re going, I could be dead by the time you (fill in the objective).” The poor kids are shocked because they believe her, and they really snap to. You might think this is unethical but I think it’s a benefit of age. Kids play the youth/beauty card all the time. Why shouldn’t we take advantage, just like they do?
Use whatcha got.
Kindle readers can contact me at Lmspreen@yahoo.com.
My friend Nanci just retired from a career in public education, first as an elementary school teacher and then as principal. We met in the eighties when we worked for the Jurupa Unified School District in Riverside, California. Here’s what Nanci did to kick-start her retirement:
Nanci, thanks for sharing your experience with us. You always did set the bar high, for yourself first and then your staff and students. All of your friends at Any Shiny Thing wish you a joyous retirement. Looks like you’re off to a flying start.
According to neuroscientist and stroke survivor Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD., feelings generated by negative stimulus don’t have to last more than 90 seconds.
I’ll let Martha Beck explain it:
“Physiologically, it takes only 90 seconds of feeling the emotion caused by a negative event before the body finishes processing its stress hormones and returns to its baseline setting.”
According to Dr. Taylor,
“Unless you rerun that loop by rethinking the thoughts that restimulate the emotion…the uncomfortable feelings will go away.”
I actually think I saw this happen in my own body recently. I was putting together a video tribute to my late father and it got to me. My husband gave me a hug and I fell apart, but after a half-dozen good sobs, the negativity faded and I was able to return to my normal happy state.
Dr. Taylor is a neuroscientist who suffered a stroke, observed how it affected the destruction of her brain, and recovered to write and speak about the experience. If you have about 15 minutes, watch her preso at TED. It gets pretty emotional toward the end, but in a good way. She makes you feel hopeful about the great gift of being human.
Kindle readers can email me at Lmspreen@yahoo.com.
If you want to get a roomful of chatter, bring up the term MILF with your girlfriends. For those of you who are still sweetly unaware, it’s a grade men give women based on the latter’s sexuality. It stands for “Mothers I’d Like to F….”
Here’s what my friends say:
- Who gives a F who you’d like to F?
- Why single out mothers?
MILF implies that the default setting is that mothers are un-F-able, unless they earn the prized designation of MILF. Then, oh baby, then they rate. Woo hoo. Winner.
My girls recommend we retire the MILF award and start handing out MWDH.
Men Who Do Housework*
Now, that’s sexy.
*Apologies to DRM and WFS, both of whom totally win this prize.
Kindle readers can reach me at LMSpreen@yahoo.com.